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She raise wi' the lav'rock, the milked her cow;
And the trow'd ilka word that the fause loon did say,
And trust like poor Kate to what fause loons will say.
AN ENQUIRY INTO THE EFFECT THAT THE SALT LAWS PRODUCE
ON THE REVENUE IN SCOTLAND.
Having fhowed, Bee vol. viii. p. 150 & 192, and vol. x. p. 297, to what an intolerable degree the salt laws operate in retarding the industry of the people of Scotland, I shall now proceed to enquire in what manner they affect the national revenue.
The total net produce of salt duties in Scotland, according to Sir John Sinclair's account of the revenue, ap-' pears to be for the whole of Scatland, anno 1789 *, L. 9293 : 10:15.
By the third report of the committee of parliament, on fisheries, it appears, that in the counties of Argyll, Invernefs, Sutherland, Caithness, Orkney, Shetland, Nairn, and Cromarty, the account of customs stood thus, for the average of ten years preceding 1784. Gross annual produce,
L..5073 12 Expence of collecting, including custom
house cruizers for that part of the island,
10,105 10 1
Payments exceed the produce †,
L. 5031 18 11 So that government pays nearly twice as much as it draws in these counties,, on the single branch of customs ; and a defalcation of revenue to the amount of more than five thousand pounds a-year is incurred. The excise account is little different.
But this is not the whole of the loss incurred by the revenue on account of the salt laws. Because of these
• History of public revenue, part iii, p. 344.
laws, it has been shown, that the fisheries among the islands, and the trade in filh, has been entirely precluded; and in order to have any fisheries at all, government has been obliged to grant bounties for vessels fishing for her. rings, and a debenture on the exportation of these from Britain ; neither of which would have been necessary had the trade in salt and fith been perfectly free. These two drains from the revenue must therefore be deducted. This account on an average of years preceding 1783, stands thus : Bounties paid on busses in Scotland *, L. 14,082 15.0 Premiums on exportation t,
6051 II 10 To which must be added, premiums for
Scotch herrings, and hard fish exported
from England, supposed to be about, Add also the annual loss on the customs, as above,
5031 18 11 Add farther the premiums granted by the
society for encouraging fisheries in
Scotland, at least, per annum, Total outgivings,
29,166 5 9 From that deduct the net proceeds of the salt duties,
9293 10 Outgoings exceed the incomings, L. 19,872 15 8
So that the revenue sustains a clear annual loss of nearly twenty thousand pounds a-year.
This, however, is only a small part of the lofs; for when the matter is fairly investigated, we ought to advert, not only to the net loss that is annually sustained; but to that ought to be added the net revenue which would accrue to the state, wer these people put into such a
* See third report of the committee of fisheries, Appendix, No. 4. # Ibid.
to enable them to be in as prosperous circumstances as other parts of the country, so as to pay taxes in an equal proportion.
There are at least 500,000 inhabitants in those counties of Scotland above enumerated, who, instead of paying taxes to the exchequer, actually draw a considerable sum from it.
Suppose that in the whole of England, and the re. maining parts of Scotland, there are eight millions of people.
These eight millions of people yield at present a free revenue of more than sixteen millions to the exchequer.
Of course, at the same rate, this - half million ought, if they were in equally prosperous circumstances, to pay one million of free taxes into the exchequer.
At this rate it is obvious that government loses an an• nual revenue of about L.1,030,000 for the sake of obtaining an annual income of less than L. 10,000 only. Can any conduct be more irrational, were humanity entirely out of the question !!
Neither is this the whole of the loss that revenue sustains. If the same system be persisted in, emigrations from these countries must continue to increase ; the number of people there must annually diminish; and with it, the present strength of the country be impaired, and its future resources be cut off.
But should this oppressive system of legislation be abandoned, and the people put into easy circumstances, their numbers would rapidly increase. In a short time, instead of a half, there would be a whole million of inhabitants, yielding a revenue of at least two millions, which might soon increase to a degree that no person can at present form an idea of.
Let us not think that these ideas are chimerical. Spain, in the time of Augustus, contained fifiy millions of people. In consequence of a succession of absurdities in their system of legislation, they are diminished now to right. And, by an opposite management, the United Provinces, which, at the first mentioned period, contained not perhaps t'wo thousand inhabitants, contain now more than two millions.
Some will object to the possibility of ever sustaining a numerous population in the Highlands and Isles of Scotland. The soil, they will tell you, is poor, and the climate unfavourable; it is therefore in vain to hope that this part of the country can ever become populous or wealthy. Those, however, who argue thus, do not seem to be sufficiently aware of what can be effected by man, when under a rational and mild system of government. Countries much more destitute of resources, under the vivifying influence of a wise system of legislation, have become much more populous than the most fertile kingdoms in Europe. “ The canton of Appenzel," says Mr Robert in his Voyage dans les XIII. cantons Suisses, p. 229,“ a small district, part of which is occupied hy glacieres, inaccessible rocks, ravines, and precipices, offers a population of fifty-five thousand inhabitants, which, in proportion to its extent, greatly surpasses the most fertile countries. The canton of Appenzel contains seventeen hundred inhabitants for
every square league ; neither the rich plains of the Milanese, nor the most fertile provinces of France, nor even the United Provinces, vivified by an immense commerce, does present such a population,
“ I had seen,” says he with surprise, " the multitude of habitations scattered along the mountains, on approaching towards St Gall; my astonishment redoubled, and was carried to the highest possible pitch, when I entered into the canton of Appenzel. In places which are not susceptible of any culture, in an immense valley, where they neither gather wheat, nor wine, nor legumes, nor barley, nor